Whenever a team begins a season with lofty expectations and a high spot in the rankings, there are sure to be plenty of critics. The Arizona Wildcats knew this all throughout the 1990s and early 2000s, and it's been the case this preseason as the team begins the year ranked No. 11 in the AP Poll.
In a video segment on Friday, national basketball columnist Gary Parrish of CBS Sports called Arizona the most overrated team in the country.
"Where are the great players on this team?" Parrish asked early in his segment.
Mark Lyons, who transferred in from Xavier this summer, averaged 15 points last season while splitting time between the two guard positions. He is now being asked to run the point in Tucson. Admittedly, Lyons isn't a true point guard; He's a score-first guard who is capable of handling the ball and occasionally dishing it off to his teammates.
Even if Lyons isn't the second coming of John Stockton, he's shown in practices and in UA's first exhibition game that he's more than capable of running the offense. Parrish says Xavier coach Chris Mack learned the hard way what happens when Lyons is calling the shots; Miller is a former point guard and is the right coach to get the very most out of the talented senior.
Solomon Hill is a four-year starter and has drawn rave reviews from coach Sean Miller in practice. He trimmed down in order to move back to his customary spot at the three and was picked as the preseason Player of the Year in the Pac-12 after a breakout campaign in 2011.
Nick Johnson, a sophomore who started every meaningful game last season, is back after averaging nine points, three assists and three rebounds a game. A former five-star recruit, Johnson looks primed for another strong season.
Kevin Parrom, who might be the conference's best sixth man, is healthy after a tumultuous junior year that saw him take a bullet, lose his mother and lost his grandmother.
"In another preview we did, (columnist) Jeff Goodman said their incoming freshmen were 'pretty good.'" Parrish said. "And I think they're pretty good. But will they have an immediate impact at a high-major level? We'll see."
Arizona will give plenty of minutes to Brandon Ashley, Grant Jerrett and Kaleb Tarczewski. All three were consensus top-20 recruits, and both Jerrett and Tarczewski were arguably the two best players on the court during the exhibition opener.
And despite Jerrett and Tarczewski impressing the most in the early going, most would agree Ashley has the highest ceiling of the three.
For a man who gives so much love to UCLA and Kentucky for their recruiting classes, it's odd to see him not believing in Arizona's. And, you know, these Wildcats will actually be eligible to play at the start of the season. One certain Bruin in Westwood can't say the same thing right now.
To say Arizona is overrated or that they don't have any "star players" is a foolish statement.
Parrish is wrong now and he'll be wrong once again when March rolls around.